So I am in no means an expert at music festivals, but every time I go to one, I have the time of my life and see every band I planned to see… and my lineup is always super ambitious. Plus, having just finished Governor’s Ball, this is all fresh in my mind. So! Here are my tips to getting the most out of your music festival experience!
- When the lineup is announced, check out all of the bands.
If you bought tickets for the music festival, odds are you know quite a few of the bands that will be playing. But there’s also going to be loads of bands you’re not familiar with. Give them all a listen in the months leading up to the festival. Send the lineup to your friends and see which bands stand out to them- which ones they’ve seen and thought were amazing, or bands they’ve heard of that they think suck. This will help you figure out which acts you should skip and which ones you should pay a visit to. Music festivals are a great time to see your favorite bands live, but also a great opportunity to make new favorites (Ex. I knew nothing of Ryan Adams, but I scheduled him in my lineup anyway. He ended up being one of my favorite performances). Take a chance on a new band and develop some new favorites in the months leading up to the festival, and spontaneously while you’re on the festival grounds. Always plan at least one unfamiliar band into your lineup.
- Plan in advance.
It’s so important to be flexible at music festivals- you have to go with the flow sometimes. But you should also go in with a plan. I always have my lineup planned out to the minute. I know exactly where I’m going to be at all times (and yeah, it often changes once you’re there, but I have a foundation for my weekend). This is how you can see the most bands possible. If you go without knowing who you want to see, you end up just floating around and only see a few sets in full. I planned out five bands a day. I ended up seeing more than that. That’s over 15 performances I saw in one weekend- whereas my roommates didn’t go in with a plan and only saw 7 bands total.
- Go sober.
I know this one doesn’t sound fun, but it’s how you’ll last the entire weekend. Yeah, you should definitely enjoy a few drinks if you want, but don’t overdo it. I saw so many people just fall over (literally) this weekend. They payed all this money to spend the day in the medic tent. There’s a fine line between having fun and passing out. If you go it sober, you’re guaranteed to have the energy to make it through the weekend and do everything you wanted to do. (Ex. I left the house every day at 1 PM and got home after 11 PM. My roommates left later than me and got home before me every single day, because they were drunk and high the entire weekend, so they wore themselves out). Have fun, but be smart. Standing out in the sun all day and dancing around takes a larger toll on you than you realize.
- Stay hydrated.
Music festivals always have free water refilling stations. You’re not allowed to bring water into the festival with you (at least, at all the festival I’ve been to), but you can bring an empty water bottle. Fill it up as soon as you get to the festival, and keep refilling it every time it runs out. Again, you don’t want to spend the day in the medic tent. Staying hydrated will also keep your energy up.
- Get to the stage early.
Don’t show up a few minutes into the set and expect to have a great spot. If you want to actually see the band, not just hear them, you have to get there before their set begins- at least 15 minutes beforehand. Sometimes an hour or two in advance, if the band is super popular. Plan accordingly. Don’t be the jerk that gets there late and pushes and shoves their way to the front.
- Suck it up.
You’re going to get tired. Your feet will ache and your legs will feel like they have lead attached to them. Suck it up. Get over it. Just dance through the pain. The soreness will pass, but the memories will last forever. Don’t leave early because your feet hurt. Just keep dancing. (Unless you’re like, about to pass out or something. Always be safe. But if you’re just tired and achy, then get over it).
- Meet new people.
Music festivals are full of amazing people. Talk to people around you while waiting for the set. Sing along to your favorite songs with a stranger. Dance with the crowd. Don’t be afraid to mingle. Everyone is there for the single purpose of seeing amazing live music, and it’s a magical experience. Share it with everyone. Give out random high fives. Look out for your neighbor. Help the girl next to you get up on that guy’s shoulders. You’re going to get really close and personal with a lot of strangers over the weekend- it’s more enjoyable if you’re friendly with them instead of ignoring them.
- Pack light.
You’re going to be standing all day. You don’t need a heavy backpack weighing you down. And, if you can avoid it, don’t bring a backpack at all- it takes up space in the crowd and you’ll get tired of maneuvering through the crowd with it on. Here’s what you need to bring: Sunglasses, water bottle, money, ID, Tylenol/Aspirin, phone. That’s it. That’s all I brought with me every day.
- Don’t forget sunscreen.
Be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen at the beginning of the day. Nothing will ruin your weekend faster than an intense sunburn after day 1. You shouldn’t have to worry about packing sunscreen with you, though. Most festivals will have stations set up where you can get sunscreen reapplied throughout the day.
- Have fun!
Dress up. Do crazy make-up and tattoos. Get body/face paint. Deck yourself out in feathers and flower crowns and massive headbands. Dance like nobody’s watching. Sing along to your favorite songs. Jump up and down and wave your arms in the air. Cheer and scream. Just have the time of your life and leave any self-consciousness you have at home, because music festivals are the best place to just be yourself, have fun, go crazy, and party! If you’re worried about what other people think of you or your dancing or your singing or enthusiasm, you’re not going to have fun. Everyone else there is going to be acting wild, so just go crazy! You’ll have so much more fun that way.